Image: Studio Drift, Fragile Future 3.14, Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery
About the Dark Fantasy group exhibition
From October 11 to November 16, 2019, UTA Artist Space and Carpenters Workshop Gallery present the Dark Fantasy exhibition featuring many Dutch designers. Following the success of Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s exhibition DYSFUNCTIONAL, which opened in Venice last May, this exhibition at UTA Artist Space showcases a selection of artists from the Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s influential program, curated by gallery director Ashlee Harrison. This marks the first exhibition of Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Los Angeles, as well as the LA debut of Virgil Abloh’s Acqua Alta series, a new site-specific installation by Studio Drift, a major work by Nacho Carbonell, and the premiere of Reclining Nude by Atelier Van Lieshout.
Based on the concept of Archeofuturism, which focuses on excavating forms of the past in order to shape future narratives of design, Dark Fantasy guides the viewer through a whimsical world of the fantastic and the obscure, questioning the constraints of reality and what it means to dream. By highlighting advanced techniques, traditional master craft and new technology, Dark Fantasy brings to life organic and telluric forms that allude to bygone eras of production. The exhibition explores over a decade of functional art from 24 artists from Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s program, creating a dialogue between space, time and contemporary archeology.
Two monumental Wendell Castle bronze sculptures flank the entrance to the exhibition, followed by a forest of Nacho Carbonell’s telluric light sculptures upon arrival inside the gallery. Further inside, the viewer is immersed in a decadent installation of Studio Drift’s Fragile Future, a chapel and transcendent celestial experience. Included also is Alaska Bench, a sinking bronze sculpture by Virgil Abloh that suggests we are sinking into the space amongst nature and becoming one with the environment. Inspired by Venice’s surrounding water and rising sea levels, Abloh prompts us to consider the fate of Venice and our planet.
In Gallery One, the viewer is transported to a futuristic surrealism amongst amorphic ethereal works that seem to have their own intelligence and personality, like science fiction characters that come to life. Artists include Robert Stadler, Aldo Bakker, Verhoeven Twins, interactive installations by Atelier Van Lieshout, and Random International whose immersive Rain Room is in the collection of LACMA.
Traveling further through the exhibition, the viewer encounters a moment of eccentricity and iconoclasm of the NeoBaroque, exalting biomorphic, lyrical and sensual forms, made of opulent unexpected materials. Branch like structures of precious jasper jade grow into a dining table by Vincenzo DeCotiis, a performative grandfather clock by Maarten Baas, and Charles Trevelyan’s spindle like bronze console. Culminating the exhibition, one discovers in the space a jewel box of contemporary archeology, where raw materials and dark distressed patinas create a dialogue of elegant and refined textures. From the 5 million-year-old petrified wood Curial by Rick Owens, to the Commode Galuchat by Ingrid Donat, in dialogue the works create a timeless presence.
The exhibition features over fifty pieces by Virgil Abloh, Atelier Van Lieshout, Maarten Baas, Aldo Bakker, Sebastian Brajkovic, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Nacho Carbonell, Wendell Castle, Vincenzo De Cotiis, Ingrid Donat, Vincent Dubourg, Najla El Zein, Kendell Geers, Steven Haulenbeek, Anton Hendrik Denys, Kostas Lambridis, Mathieu Lehanneur, Frederik Molenschot, Rick Owens, Random International, Robert Stadler, Studio Drift, Charles Trevelyan, and Verhoeven Twins.
The opening reception of the Dark Fantasy exhibition takes place on Friday, October 11, 6-8 PM.
About the artists
Every convention – whether it concerns artistic legacy, beauty or plain purpose – needs to be challenged.And every creation is an exploration of the senses. From early on in his career Aldo Bakker (NL, 1971)has produced works in which his exquisite use of shape, material and colour is balanced with an almostdisturbing tenacity in the way these pitchers, bowls, spoons, stools and tables defy everyday perceptionsabout the relationship between man and object. Or more precisely: the relationship between object andman. Because despite their tranquil appearance and the modesty of their monochrome skins, Bakker’sobjects are anything but submissive. They determine the rules of the interaction. Those who handle ormerely observe them should come to terms with the inherent independence of these creatures. Theirsensuous presence makes them highly seductive, but also hard to get. A bowl, a bench, a flask: allthese ‘objects fatales’ could be (mis)taken for just being dead gorgeous and desirable, where in fact theyundermine fixed notions about the object as a commodity.Aldo Bakker rejected a formal arts training. As an autodidact he carefully studied the oeuvres of someof the most idiosyncratic artists of the modern age, ranging from composer Luigi Nono and painterGiorgio Morandi to writer J.M. Coetzee and architect Carlo Scarpa. With these masters, Bakker shares afundamental interest for the language of their favoured medium. In fact, the introverted nature of his works,their elegant curves and facets, the depth of their surfaces and their flawless execution all contribute tothe sensation that these artefacts tell their own stories in their own language. When they leave the studio –often after years of careful deliberation – the objects no longer bear witness to their maker, but exclusivelyto their own existence. To the questions they raise about the integrity of their being.By positioning his works as individual characters, Aldo Bakker forces his audience to shift its perception.We are no longer looking at an inanimate object on which we project our knowledge of style, shapeor material value. Instead, these creatures invite us to engage in a conversation about their behaviour, their uncertainties, their beliefs, their native tongue. We do not approach them as buyers or even as arthistorians, we become their fellow travellers, questioning ourselves as much as they question u
Sculptor Joep van Lieshout was born in 1963 in Ravenstein, The Netherlands. He is the progenitor of AVL-ville, a self-sufficient free-state in the port of Rotterdam named after the studio he founded in 1995.
For three decades van Lieshout has produced work that straddles art, design, and architecture; sharing recurring themes of systems, power, life, sex, death, and the human individual amidst the greater whole.
AVL gained international recognition for sculptural installations featuring controversial or sinister nuances. Alongside playful perversion, the work conveys disdain for limitation and longing for freedom. Van
Lieshout considers the body to be divine architecture with the viewer invited to interact with manufactured interior spaces resembling internal organs, acting out taboos and wish fulfillment. His work Sensory Deprivation Skull allows the experience of entering one’s own head, offering a period and place of mental respite. Wellness Skull houses a sauna and a bath within its form, proffering more hedonistic relaxation.
AVL’s projects traverse clean design and non-functional sculptures doubling as habitats, fusing luxury with anarchic independence from conventional living.
Frederik Molenschot was born in 1981, is graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, currently works in Amsterdam, and is part of the Dutch Design Movement. His degree was earned with studies in man and
public space and he focused on connecting people and their environments. The founder of Studio Molen, Molenschot is a blur of constant energy, forever creating and developing new ideas and inspiring people. Molenschot crafts his work by hand and displays incredible diversity. He has a deep interest in the artificial and natural elements of our surroundings. His aim is to transport the viewer’s senses to a new level.
Molenschot is best known for his cast bronze lighting structures such as his body of works City light which he hand-shaped into detailed formations to channel and direct light. His work is inspired by city lights and the night sky which visualize a vision of a future city. He says, “If you’re an architect, your world is a building, a graphic designer works on a newspaper or a wall, while a landscape architect plays with nature itself. I try and draw all these worlds together and see what happens when they meet.”
Maarten Baas is a Dutch designer. Born in 1978, he grew up largely in Burgh-Haamstede and Hemmen in the Netherlands. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Baas is at the forefront of the design community and is considered one of the most influential Dutch designers of the early twenty-first century. Since 2005, Baas has collaborated with production partner Bas den Herder. Most of his designs are handmade in the Den Herder Production House studio in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. His works straddle boundaries between art and design, and he is known for his rebellious, playful, intellectual, theatrical, and artistic style. He occupies a unique position in the design field in that he participates in such a wide variety of areas, including conceptual design, installations, public spaces, theater design,
and performance. Baas is best known for his works Real Time, Schiphol Clock, Smoke, Clay Furniture, and Carapace. His work can be found in major museum collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Sebastian Brajkovic is fascinated by the notions of perspective and distortion of form. He investigates these notions through his sculptural furniture pieces, resulting in the creation of the Lathe series of tables and chairs. His designs have been identified as modern classics and reside in permanent collections of institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and the Museum of Arts and Design (New York).
Studio Drift is an artists’ studio founded in 2006 by Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn that explores the relationship between nature, technology, and mankind. The studio’s philosophy is based on creating a dialogue between opposites. Its work comes to life via ongoing collaboration with scientists, university research facilities, computer programmers, and engineers. Studio Drift’s sculptures are site-specific art installations that react directly to human behavior but question it at the same time. Studio Drift proposes a distinct mix between hi-tech and poetic imagery. Fragile Future III conveys emotion while simultaneously referencing the fact that light lies at the basis of all life. Fragile Future III is a modular work. It is created in the form of a limited edition collection and custom made installations are created on commission. It consists of three-dimensional bronze electrical circuits connected to light emitting dandelions. It was developed in collaboration with the Carpenters Workshop Gallery and won a Light of the Future award from the German Design Council in 2008. The Fragile Future III Concrete Chandelier won the Moët Hennessy-PAD London Prize in 2010 and was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2011, Fragile Future III won the top prize at the summer exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in The Hague. Studio Drift’s work has been shown at many fairs and museums, including the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Design Miami/Basel, Art Paris Art Fair, Dubai Design Week, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
“We respect the old but want the new. We want to challenge, confront the normal, the accepted, the expected. We believe in fusing talented writers, filmmakers, artists, and scientists into a movement that
will go beyond ego; that will create a super story teller. As designers we feel not limited to only one category. We work with museums, architecture, furniture and fashion companies, to commercial brands and self-initiated projects. But wherever the starting point is, challenging and beautiful products are always our aim. Dutch Design is mostly famous for its conceptual, almost art-like status. We are very much Dutch, but apart from that, we also strongly believe that in the end our work should also find a larger audience. That is why we work in a similar way as the Haute Couture fashion world works.
Our studio will take the largest amount of artistic freedom to express valuable concepts, fantastic stories in projects that know no limitations. We use them ourselves as an inspiration and show them as a way to tell our story. On the other hand that same drive can lead to products that find their way in the production line. For the Lace Fence design we set up a social oriented production in India in 2006. We are now able
to provide 75 Indian families with health care insurance, pension and a healthy working environment, with the production of Lace Fence. We love to cross boundaries: between dream and reality, what is today and is about to come. The possibilities to shape the future with the tools of today are endless, we try to use them in their best way. Industrial production is as beautiful and inspiring as craft. We design serial products with the same attention as one-off’s. We are storytellers, from fantasy to factory, from statement to product.”
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About Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Carpenters Workshop Gallery produces and exhibits functional sculptures by international emerging and established artists and designers going outside their traditional territories of expression. The gallery is actively involved in the research and production of the limited edition works. Friends and partners Julien Lombrail & Loic Le Gaillard opened the first space in London’s Chelsea in 2006 in a former carpenter’s workshop. They now have art and design galleries in London, Paris, New York and San Francisco.